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Misconduct Report: November 2014

Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission

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Note: State judicial disciplinary agencies do not have appellate jurisdiction or authority over federal court judges and justices.

Arkansas

The Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission is a constitutionally mandated state judicial disciplinary agency in Arkansas. The commission have jurisdiction regarding the conduct of full, part-time, and special judges and justices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, circuit court, district courts, city courts, and police courts. They also have jurisdiction over referees, special masters, court commissioners, and magistrates.[1]

Composition of the Commission

The commission consists of nine members, three judges, three lawyers, and three members of the general public. Members have six-year terms, and may hold two full terms.[2][3]

The commission holds regular meetings once every other month.[4] Commission members receive no salary, but are entitled limited compensation provided by law.[2] They are supported by a full time staff, including an Executive Director.[5]

Members of the Commission

A current list of the members can be found on the Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission website.

Case flow description

Flow Chart

The standard case flow for complaints filed with the commission is as follows:[6][7]

  • Complaints are filed with the Commission.
  • Each complaint is reviewed by the commission staff.
  • Complaints are dismissed or a preliminary investigation is conducted.
  • After an investigation, complaints are dismissed, an information adjustment or public admonishment is issued, or a formal hearing is held.
  • Formal hearings can result in a complaint being dismissed, a reprimand or censure being issued by the commission, or a recommendation for suspension or removal given to the Supreme Court.

More information is available here.

(Note: The flow chart on the right was patterned after a flow chart in the State Of Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission Information Guide.[6])

State laws

Constitution

Amendment 66. Judicial Discipline And Disability Commission.
(a) Commission: Under the judicial power of the State, a Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission is established and shall be comprised of nine persons: three justices or judges, appointed by the Supreme Court; three licensed attorneys in good standing who are not justices or judges, one appointed by the Attorney General, one by the President of the Senate, and one by the Speaker of the House; and three members appointed by the Governor. The members appointed by the Governor shall not be justices or judges, retired justices or judges, or attorneys. Alternate members shall be selected and vacancies filled in the same manner.

(b) Discipline, Suspension, Leave, and Removal: The Commission may initiate, and shall receive and investigate, complaints concerning misconduct of all justices and judges, and requests and suggestions for leave or involuntary disability retirement. Any judge or justice may voluntarily request that the Commission recommend suspension because of pending disciplinary action or leave because of a mental or physical disability. Grounds for sanctions imposed by the Commission or recommendations made by the Commission shall be violations of the professional and ethical standards governing judicial officers, conviction of a felony, or physical or mental disability that prevents the proper performance of judicial duties. Grounds for suspension, leave, or removal from office shall be determined by legislative enactment.
(c) Discipline: If, after notice and hearing, the Commission by majority vote of the membership determines that grounds exist for the discipline of a judge or justice, it may reprimand or censure the judge or justice, who may appeal to the Supreme Court. The Commission may, if it determines that grounds exist, after notice and hearing, and by majority vote of the membership, recommend to the Supreme Court that a judge or justice be suspended, with or without pay, or be removed, and the Supreme court, en banc, may take such action. Under this amendment, a judge who also has executive or legislative responsibilities shall be suspended or removed only from judicial duties. In any hearing involving a Supreme Court justice, all Supreme Court justices shall be disqualified from participation.
(d) Leave and Retirement: If, after notice and hearing, the Commission by majority vote of the membership determines that a judge or justice is unable because of physical or mental disability to perform the duties of office, the Commission may recommend to the Supreme Court that the judge or justice be granted leave with pay or be retired, and the Supreme Court, en banc, may take such action. A judge or justice retired by the Supreme Court shall be considered to have retired voluntarily as provided by law.
(e) Vacancies: Vacancies created by suspension, the granting of leave or the removal of a judge or justice, or vacancies created by disqualification of justices, shall be filled as provided by law.
(f) Rules: The Supreme Court shall make procedural rules implementing this amendment and setting the length of terms on the Commission.
(g) Cumulative Nature: This amendment is alternative to, and cumulative with, impeachment and address authorized by this Constitution.[3]

Statutes

Statutes relating to the Judicial Discipline And Disability Commission are found in the Arkansas Code: Title 16 - Practice, Procedure, And Courts, Subtitle 2 - Courts and Court Officers, Chapter 10 - General Provisions, Subchapter 4 - Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission.

Rules of Procedure

The Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission has 15 Rules of Procedure as set out by the Supreme Court on March 13, 2008.[8]

  • Rule 1. Organization of Commission.
  • Rule 2. Powers and duties of the Commission.
  • Rule 3. Financial arrangements for Commission.
  • Rule 4. Commission office.
  • Rule 5. Duties of the director.
  • Rule 6. Jurisdiction.
  • Rule 7. Disclosure.
  • Rule 8. Procedures of Commission regarding conduct of a judge.
  • Rule 9. Hearing on formal statement of allegations.
  • Rule 10. Interim sanctions.
  • Rule 11. Ex parte communications.
  • Rule 12. Supreme Court review.
  • Rule 13. Cases involving allegations of mental and physical disability.
  • Rule 14. Involuntary retirement.
  • Rule 15. Complaints shall be adjudicated or dismissed within 18 months.

Commission decisions

A detailed list of commission decisions are available on the Commission's website.

Year Dispositions
2013 4
2012 7
2011 5
2010 3
2009 5
2008 7
2007 2
2006 2
2005 1
2004 5
2003 2
2002 5
2001 8
2000 7
1999 8
1998 5
1997 10
1996 4
1995 7
1994 3
1993 3
1992 3
1991 3
1990 8

Complaint statistics

Year Number of Cases Filed Cases Disposed
2012[9] 257 236
2011[5] 248 247
2010[9] 285 280
2009[9] 244 235

Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee

Established on July 1, 1991, by the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee issues advisory opinions to judges and official judicial candidates on the Code of Judicial Conduct upon request.[10]

  • The committee is composed of two retired judges and one attorney who is a member of the Arkansas Bar. Members serve three-year terms.[11]
  • Between 1991 and 2011, the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee issued 126 opinions.[5] Read summaries of all the opinions here.

History

Date Developments
1988 The Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission is established with the passing of Proposed Amendment 1, which would become Amendment 66.
1989 Legislative Act 637 is passed, creating statutory aspect of the Commission.[5]
1991 The Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee was established by the Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission to provide advisory opinions.[5]
1993 The current Code of Judicial Conduct takes effect.[5]
2008 After requesting and receiving advice from the Arkansas Bar Association, the Supreme Court amends the Commission's Rules of Procedure.[8]

Code of Judicial Conduct

Below is the summary of the Arkansas Code of Judicial Conduct. Full documentation is available at the Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission website.

Canon 1: A judge shall uphold and promote the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.
Canon 2: A judge shall perform the duties of judicial office impartially, competently, and diligently.
Canon 3: A judge shall conduct the judge’s personal and extrajudicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with the obligations of judicial office.
Canon 4: A judge or candidate for judicial office shall not engage in political or campaign activity that is inconsistent with the independence, integrity, or impartiality of the judiciary.[12]

Contact information

Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission
323 Center Street, Suite # 1060
Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone: (501) 682-1050
Fax: (501) 682-1049
Email: jddc@mail.state.ar.us

See also

External links

References

ArkansasArkansas Supreme CourtArkansas Court of AppealsArkansas Circuit CourtsArkansas District CourtsArkansas City CourtsUnited States District Court for the Eastern District of ArkansasUnited States District Court for the Western District of ArkansasUnited States bankruptcy court, Eastern and Western Districts of ArkansasUnited States Court of Appeals for the Eighth CircuitArkansas countiesArkansas judicial newsArkansas judicial electionsJudicial selection in ArkansasArkansasTemplate.jpg